The city is sizzling under the summer sun and most of the city dwellers are trying to get a piece of the beach. With the summer sun glaring mercilessly on us, it is definitely the best sanctuary to be in at this time of the year. Most of us don't mind the heat when we are feeling the sand under our feet. But did you know that there is a G-spot down south... err... i mean, a go to beach spot down south that could give Boracay a run for its money?
Saranggani may not ring a bell as much as Aklan or Palawan but the municipality of Glan on the western coast of the province is a great destination to explore and discover for beach lovers. The beauty of its white sand beach and clear turquoise waters have earned it the monicker as the "Summer Capital of Saranggani". Roughly about an hour away from General Santos City, Glan is also being positioned to being included in the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites for its collection of well-preserved heritage houses similar to that of Vigan's.
Located on the north of Glan, Lago Beach is a peaceful sanctuary where one can enjoy a steady day by the beach. Its cream-colored sand and calm turquoise waters is a perfectly relaxing view to appreciate. Taking a dip in its cool waters is a good way to break away from reading a book or the monotony of not doing anything.
Hacienda Don Juan sits at the heart of its coast. The sprawling resort was established by the heirs of Don Juan Escobar who converted the beach spot into a realxing and instagrammable resort. The resort boasts of unique cocoon accomodations and family houses for the bigger crowd. The resort has its own restaurant and a small store that operates 24 hours. The staff are locals from Glan who are tapped to help during peak season and when needed.
At the heart of the estate stands the Escobar Ancestral Home which doubles as a home for the clan and a museum that displays family memorabilias. On display on its courtyard are some of the car collection of the family and a pen where they safekeep their pet ostriches. Its beachfront was designed to give its guests that relaxing and laidback beach vibe.
Kuya Lito gleams with pride that a lot of their guests enjoy the privacy that the resort provides. There is no doubt that the resort does provide a beach sanctuary away from the usual crowd.
Glan Town Center
Glan is a sleepy and laidback municipality and you get that kind of provincial vibe as you explore its town center. As mentioned earlier, the municipality is also known for its heritage structures and going around town by foot can be an interesting experience. It felt like I was in a scene of a movie set in the 1960s.
Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church
Void of the usual glam of a Catholic church, the Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church is a sanctuary that evokes simplicity - a reflection of the community. Its simple facade and belfry blends perfectly well with its surroundings. In fact without the belfry, one would probably mistake it as an office structure.
Natural light brightens up its interiors with its large window frames along the sides of the church. Its main altar evokes simplicity with only the crucifix as its main focus. The place is a sanctuary of the faithful with its peaceful and serene ambiance.
Glan Municipal Hall
A few blocks from the church is the new Glam Municipal Hall facing the town plaza. The structure stands at the heart of town and dominates the skyline of Glan. A small gold-colored monument is the main centerpiece of the town that depicts the life of the locals in Glan.
15 minutes away south of the town center is Taban Beach - a small public beach strip with white sand and clear turquoise waters. The beach stop is undeveloped and it has a small fishing community along its shores. Except for a small store, a couple of benches for rent, and a makeshift toilet, the beach is pretty much oozes with rawness.
The beach strip is bounded by rock formations on both ends. We explored the rock formations on the southern side where you get to view Gumasa Beach. You can actually cross its shallow waters to get to the more popular beachfront of Gumasa.
It is a good beach spot for those who want to enjoy a laidback day by the beach for FREE unless you plan to rent out one of the benches for a picnic or a longer stay. You can actually find your own spot and enjoy its sand and the sun without the usual commerce of a beautiful beach.
Gumasa Beach is probably the most popular beach spot in Glan. Its 6-kilometer white sand shoreline that stretches in a crescent-shape cove is so impressive that the beach is often referred to as the "Boracay of the South". The beach is not crowded despite the development of resorts in the area. It is the venue of the annual Saranggani summer festival - Sarbay Festival.
The pristine beach of Gumasa Beach is a must-visit in Glan. We enjoyed its powdery white sand and its cool waters under the summer sun. It is one of the beaches in the country that oozes with charm, not to mention that it is very photogenic. The best part of it is that it did not have the crowd that we associate with a beauty like this. It can give Boracay a quick run for its money.
But getting to enjoy Gumasa Beach can be quite tricky. The beach is already lined up with a number of resorts that charge "entrance fees". The access road of the Sarbay Festival is also closed at the time of our visit. One can choose to wade through shallow waters from Taban to Gumasa or go the way we did - charmed our way with a caretaker of a newly bought property to allow us to do "viewing".
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Pristine and without the crowd, the beaches of Glan can give Boracay, Cebu, or Palawan a run for its money. It is largely untouched and less developed so you get to see and experience the rawness of the place. It is a great option to consider for those who want to enjoy the heat of the summer without the usual crowd of the more popular destinations. Although it is starting to get traction and you can expect for development to increase its pace in the coming years. If there is a great time to enjoy the raw beauty of Glan, now is the time.
Mindanao is Philippine tourism’s pot of gold. A lot of its natural attractions remain untouched and it is largely from the misconceptions that come with the “Mindanao”. It is a haven of on-spot destinations that will surely delight every kind of traveler. The challenge that Mindanao faces is how they can develop these attractions with sustainably for the benefit of the community.
Getting There: Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air have regular daily flights to General Santos City. You can take a jeep or a cab to SM City General Santos where you can take a van to Glan in Saranggani. Tricycle is the way to go around Glan.
Sample Travel Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Cotabato City / Cotabato City Tour (Click here for details of the trip.)
> The Grand Mosque (Habal-Habal Contact: Mohammad Edsa - 0935 9063067)
> People’s Palace
> Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
> PC Hill and Tantawan Park
> Old Cotabato City Hall
> Cotabato City Plaza
Day 2: Asik-Asik Falls, Alamada, Cotabato (Click here for trip details of the trip.
Contact person for habal-habal arrangements from Midsayap: Jun Camap – 0919 4558958)
Day 3: Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat Road Trip in the morning enroute to Lake Sebu.
> White Mosque (Datu Odin Sinsuat)
> Margues Blue Lagoon (Datu Odin Sinsuat)
> Pink Mosque (Datu Saudi Amapatuan)
> Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol (Isulan)
Lake Sebu Walking Tour (PM)
> Lake S’bu
> T’Boli Museum
> Lake Sebu Town Center
Day 4: Lake Sebu Tour (Click here for details of the trip. Contact person for Lake Sebu Tour: Ronald Maguan – 0997 2482160).
Travel to Glan in the afternoon.
Day 5: Glan Tour
> Lago Beach
> Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church
> Glan Municipal Hall
> Taban Beach
> Gumasa Beach
Travel to General Santos City in the afternoon
Day 6: General Santos City Tour
> General Santos Fish Port
> Queen Tuna Park
> Pioneer Street
> Plaza Heneral Santos
> Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage
> Tiongson Arcade
Day 7: Early morning departure to Manila
Marc del Rosario
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